name content Recession tip: How about we not villify tobacco companies? — The North Star National

Recession tip: How about we not villify tobacco companies?

WARNING: Reading some news articles may make your head explode.

Tuesday, The Boston Globe reported, “The state’s high court said yesterday that cigarette maker Philip Morris USA may have to pay for diagnostic chest exams so smokers can get early warning they have developed lung cancer, possibly opening a new front in tobacco liability lawsuits.”

So…You smoke cigarettes voluntarily–fully aware that they’re not healthy–and you should expect the manufacturer to pay for your diagnostic chest exams?

They’re nasty, but you know that.

Have we given up on the whole “personal responsibility” thing?

Personally, I hate cigarettes. I’ve never touched one and have no intention of ever doing so. But I realize that’s my choice on the matter. Adults know the risks of smoking, and if they decide that the resulting pleasure is worth those risks, they are free to smoke. I’d advise against it, but they’re still free to smoke (unless, of course, they’re on the property of someone who prohibits it.)

Smokers are not free to be absolved of any risks–health or financial. You can smoke, yes, but you can’t smoke consequence-free, not unless you invent some new way to do so. It’s not a secret that smoking greatly increases your odds of getting lung cancer.

If you must smoke, it’s your responsibility to set aside some money for the inevitable medical bills your habit will lead to. Philip Morris doesn’t have to offer you bargains like “Buy 500 cartons, get a free diagnostic chest exam!”

Similarly, if you must eat fast food, it’s your responsibility to exercise harder to make up for it. Or should McDonald’s and Burger King pay for customers’ heart exams?

Vilifying tobacco companies may give some people the satisfaction of feeling morally superior. But let’s say they succeed in bankrupting and shutting down these companies. Then what happens? Lots of people lose jobs. The government loses tax revenue (which, granted, it would probably waste anyway, but in theory, it could go to things like better body armor for soldiers.)

Also, if they ever become a reality, isn’t it possible that these court-ordered diagnostic tests alone could cost some people their jobs? The company would have to recoup the expense somehow. People could lose their jobs, because some other people couldn’t accept the consequences of their actions.

Remember, no one is forcing anyone to smoke.

As far as second-hand smoke…No one is forcing anyone to shop or eat at an establishment that allows smoking.

People make bad choices sometimes, but I’d rather be free to make a bad choice and suffer the consequences than be told how to live my life. As educated as people are about the effects of smoking, there’s no good reason to vilify the tobacco companies, and there’s only one good reason to shut them down: If everyone decides to stop smoking.

I’m all for trying to convince smokers to stop. (I don’t want anyone to get lung cancer. Smokers, please think of your health!) But I’m not for making tobacco companies pay for other people’s choices.